Elk Rut Behavior - Courting
Here are the most magnificent Elk Bulls courting during the Elk Rut. When Elk cows comes into estrus, a herd bull performs courting behavior that is different from his herding behavior. The herd bull will approach cows slowly and carefully, with antlers high and tongue flicking, doing everything he can to win her over. If a cow is not ready to mate, she will move away with her head low, weaving her neck side to side and the bull will stop his immediate courting. Cows will tolerate and accept the herd bull’s behavior when they are ready.
Elk Rut Behavior - Herding and Courting
While Dominant Elk Bull's display will attracts cows, bulls will also herd females to try to keep them from escaping to a rival Bull. The more a Big Bull works and advertises his dominance, the less likely cows will leave him.
Elk bulls will continue to charm females in their harems with bugling and displays, but it is the cows that will size up the bulls in the area and decide who looks most attractive. Cows do not want to be harassed by younger bulls that constantly chase down unattached females, so a big dominant herd bull that keeps younger bulls at a distance gives cows the peace they want to keep feeding for the winter ahead.
A Big Herd Bull will cut off cows that have ventured too far away, rushing at her with an aggressive display. The herd Bull will also use a similar technique to move the harem to safety, to an area to bed down, or simply away from another competitive bull.
When cows comes into heat, a herd bull performs courting behavior that is different from his herding behavior. The herd bull will now approach cows slowly and carefully, with antlers high and tongue flicking, doing everything he can to win her over. If a cow is not ready to mate, she will move away with her head low, weaving her neck side to side and the bull will stop his immediate courting. Cows will accept and tolerate the herd bull’s behavior when they are ready.
Elk Rut Action at it's Peak
A high ratio of Big Elk Bulls to Cows in a tight area of Nature at the height of the Elk Rut. Elk Bulls came out of everywhere in this short period, and the dynamics were amazing to witness. The Sheriff still had no problem asserting his dominance among all these incredible Bulls, but there were many successes between other Bulls and Cows as well. A lot of energy expenditure on the formation and protection of small herds, both along and in Athabasca River. These couple days were not only filled with fighting, bugling, herding and mating, but also some elk rut behaviors not previously witnessed. We left all the original sound in which offers listening to the intensity of all that we could see, but also that we could only hear. Much of this elk rut footage includes hand held digital zoom at dusk.. thank you for your patience with that.
First Elk Bull to Form Herd in the Elk Rut
The first big Elk Bull to form a herd with his cows and calves is already very active early in the Elk Rut.
Biggest Elk Bull All Fired Up During the Elk Rut - Lots of Bugles
The Sheriff, still considered the largest Elk Bull in this area, is all fired up around these cows and satellite Elk Bulls during the beginning of the Elk Rut. His Bugles clearly demonstrate the sounds of a dominant Elk Bull, signaling other Bulls that he is not to be messed with.
60 Elk Bull Bugles during the Elk Rut
Here are 60+ Elk Bull bugles during this year's Elk Rut so far. This shows a wide array of bugling sounds and tones from the largest Elk Bulls in this area of Canada's Rockies.
Magnificent Elk Bull Pursuing Cows During the Elk Rut
A Magnificent Elk Bull shining with energy during this year's Elk Rut. Various elk rut season behaviors can been seen here as he pursues cows, bugles, rubs trees and travels lakeside in a few beautiful locations.
Magnificent Elk Bull at His Biggest Early in the Rut
The most magnificent Elk Bull we have witnessed in nature, the "Sheriff" looks his best here early in the rutting season. Whether herding cows, battling other elk bulls, or chasing bears up trees, this huge Elk Bull has a commanding presence that has dominated for many years. He will be shedding very soon in preparation for another upcoming Rutting Season this Fall. The Sheriff has educated so many and done so much for Wildlife. We Tip our Hats to You Big Fella!
Sheriff brings Cows to a Beautiful Lakeside During the Elk Rut
The Sheriff brings his Cows to a beautiful Lake During an evening of the Elk Rut. Here, the largest Elk Bull in this area fends off another Bull, Bear, and stress in an amazing Canadian Rockies setting.
Elk Bull Bugles, Scrapes and Looks over Our Mountain Town on a Nice Evening During the Rut
Elk Bulls like this have an important role in making sure there are new calves next Spring. While larger, more dominant Bulls are resting or not attending cows during the rut, satellite bulls may move in to mate with these cows. Bugling can be heard in just about every direction at the peak of the rut with most being nice Bulls like this. This elk bull demonstrates rutting season behaviors as he looks over our beautiful small mountain town.
Bigger Bull Steals the Herd Early in the Elk Rut
A bigger Elk Bull came in and stole the herd from the First Bull that formed this herd. The fight must have been just an hour or so before we observed this new slightly larger bull being very active in his takeover. There were still some cows scattered, but he gradually brought them all together with lots of bugling and herding behavior. It was a perfect cool evening to catch those steamy Elk Bugles.
Sheriff Faces an Aggressive Challenger
The Sheriff(largest elk bull) faces another gifted elk bull's challenge. You can see there are several other magnificent bulls sharing this space tonight, but this was the only bull that was attempting to take on the Sheriff. Just two days ago, the Sheriff was in a fight in which he broke a tine and received several cuts on his shoulders and neck. It was suspected that this Bull inflicted this damage, but now we can't be certain. It is possible that this could be "round 2", however. These posturing displays are typical when Elk Bulls are measuring each other up, usually just before a battle ensues. When the challenger charges, the Sheriff doesn't flinch.. which must have been what changed the tide. It also may add to the possibility that this was indeed round 2, as the challenger was quite confident up until that point.
Magnificent Elk Bull Herding His Cows During the Rut
One of the Most Magnificent Bulls during this year's Elk Rut. Here he is herding cows in the Sheriff's territory(Dominant Elk Bull). This Bull had several bouts with the Sheriff this year, but still wasn't shy about bugling, chuckling and herding while remaining in the same area.
Magnificent Elk Bull During the Rut and Today
This Elk Bull has moved up in the Rut Season rankings as a force to be reckoned with for over 5 years now. Standing out in a crowd, his incredible genetics will soon be seen everywhere. He has been one of the earliest Bulls to form harems the last few years and now asserts himself over quite a large range.. coming into the Sheriff's territory for much of this past Rut. Here are some not previously shared moments of him during the Elk Rut as well as some peaceful moments of Him today, looking great.
The Sheriff Getting Ready for Date Night
We are quite a distance away in the evening, but here is the Sheriff getting ready for Elk Rut Season Date Night in Athabasca River. It is still early in the Elk Rutting Season, but this is one Elk Bull that always stays a step ahead.
Magnificent Bull Moves His Cows early in the Elk Rut
This very Attentive Elk Bull will be one of the most dominant and magnificent Bulls to witness during this year's Elk Rut. He is not afraid to challenge anything that comes near him or his cows, which makes him a great patriarch for the herd he leads during the mating season ahead. Here he moves his cows along the Athabasca River in Canada's Rockies.
First Dominant Elk Bull Moving in to Own His Rutting Territory
This Dominant Elk Bull was the satellite Bull that was run off in the beginning of our most viewed Elk Rut video back in 2018. Last Year(2020), he began ruling that same territory with his incredibly gifted energy and stamina. This Year, we were lucky to capture him as he arrives to rule the same area once again, looking magnificent!
Sheriff Gets back to Business During the Elk Rut
As expected, the Sheriff never really skipped a beat after being slightly injured during a fight. He does seem to tend to his knees a bit, but is moving really well again as his focus remains on ruling this area during the Elk Rut. There were several other big elk bulls along the perimeter here, but all moved away when the largest bull bugled or started moving in their direction. The Sheriff seems to like the safety and quiet that the Athabasca River offers much of the time as he moves his herd there to rest. Thank you for your patience where the bit of digital zoom came in handy.
Sheriff Recovering from Battle early in the Elk Rut
The Sheriff had a battle with another big elk bull during the night, early in the elk rut. It very well may be the challenger's bugles you can hear close by. We are glad to see that he must have won, as he is still ruling in this incredibly competitive elk rutting territory. Healthy elk bulls can usually brush off these limps caused by fighting in a couple of days.
Biggest Elk Bull Starts to Form His Harem.. The "Sheriff"
This Well-Known Elk Bull has been named the "Sheriff" in this area of the Canadian Rockies as his tenacity and aggression during the Rut has been unmatched for years. He lost a very long battle at the end of the Elk Rut last year to a younger rival(after fighting many), but came back and re-claimed his position just a few days later in 2019. Here he is Today, in a more secluded territory, likely knowing that age is catching up with him. We hope he stays here to avoid the competitiveness of a prime Elk location, also among people and traffic that often shortens the lives of Elk who stay there. His Offspring will be amazing. His Bugles draw Cows in from miles around. We are looking forward to seeing his Harem grow fast over the "Rut's" next several weeks.
The Calm Before the Storm
A Magnificent Bull Today.. He was one of the most active and dominant bulls during the Elk Rut last year and it looks like he will be topping his form this year. It is fantastic to be able to witness these Athletes in their prime. This Elk Bull will be shedding his velvet in about 1 month. He was one of the first to shed last year.
Battle Between Two Elk Bull Giants
Some Rare luck offered witness to two well-known Elk Bull Giants doing Battle today during the Rut. The current Palisades King of this area's Harem was defeated by the Talbot King here Tonight. Sorry for the shakiness.. the camera had to be held over our head to capture these awesome moments as best we could in a very tricky situation.
Largest Bull herding His Harem During the Elk Rut
The Biggest Elk Bull in this area that many call the "Sheriff" has been much less confrontational with other Bulls and much more focused on herding His Harem this Year. We have witnessed days when there were as many as 7 other Big Bulls circling Him and his Harem(will share shortly), but the Sheriff remained focused on the Cows rather than challenging other Bulls this Year. Last Year, He was chasing every Bull that came close, but this Year, it is very noticeable that He has become much more calculating on the risks involved in spending extra energy. It has also been observed that other Bulls have not entered his immediate domain, showing respect for this Amazing Bull's Power during this Year's Elk Rut. This is definitely "learned behavior" that we find quite impressive in Mature Elk Bulls. Many are Cheering Him on in Canada's Rockies, and the Sheriff has not disappointed with teaching us even more this Year!
Very Active Elk Bull with His Harem During the Elk Rut
A Magnificent Elk Bull being very active during the Rut in the Canadian Rockies. This Elk rut video is part 2 of 2 of this Bull and his harem as aggression and herding instincts are very high.
Why Do Elk Rub Trees During the Elk Rut?
Here is the "Sheriff".. this areas biggest Elk Bull, working on a tree today. You can see he could easily uproot it. Elk Bulls scrape or rub trees initially to remove velvet from their antlers just before the Elk Rut. As the Rutting season progresses, Elk Bulls will continue to rub their antlers on trees to spread scent, appeal to nearby cows, show dominance, and strengthen or "exercise" their neck muscles for the battles that will soon come. As Elk Bulls continue to rub their antlers on vegetation and themselves, the white/bone color will change to darker brown hues.. mahogany and/or tan. When the Elk Rut is in full swing, this scraping/rubbing becomes more aggressive and often brings challengers together.
Talbot Titan Announces His Arrival During the Elk Rut
After travelling about 40km and defeating every other Elk Bull in his path(we shared the battle with the Palisades King), this Talbot Titan has now entered the most competitive territory during the Rut. There were 3 Bulls within hundreds of meters of him here all Bugling tonight.. his presence already removed one in a short face-off. This Elk Bull may now rival the well-known "Sheriff" in muscle mass, of which currently rules this territory. We expect these Magnificent Giants will meet very shortly, and we hope we are lucky enough to be there when that happens!
Bull Behaviors with His Harem During the Elk Rut
Here is one of several successful Bulls in the Canadian Rockies during this year's Elk Rut the last few weeks, displaying..
- Rubbing antlers against trees, shrubs and the ground to impress cows, show dominance, and mark a territory,
- Licking, Sniffing and tasting,
- Flehmen or lip curls,
and Herding his Harem.
Elk Bugles and Chuckles from Early Rutting Season
Here are some Elk Bugles and Chuckles from this year's largest Bulls in early rutting season so far.
First Big Elk Bull Forming His Harem - The Rut has Begun!
This Big Elk Bull has come down from the Valley to form his Harem in a very competitive Elk Rutting location. This Bull is certainly one of the largest seen so far this year, but he will likely have to face some incredible challengers over the next few weeks, as more large Elk Bulls come out to compete in the Rut. The Elk Rut has Begun!
6 Bulls Hover around the Largest Elk Bull and His Harem During the Rut
The Largest Elk Bull that some call the Sheriff, shows his maturity as he does not flinch, staying close to his harem while 6 other Bulls hover around with distracting behavior. It is very rare to see this many Elk Bulls of all sizes in such close proximity during this time without some epic chasing or fights breaking out, but that may have already been worked out among them earlier. The Elk Cows were more dispersed this year, which may have encouraged this kind of behavior in these typically dense/popular Elk rutting areas. Several Elk Bulls were quite a distance away, forcing us to turn up the gain during bugles so they could be heard.
Jasper, Alberta's Largest Bull Elk Seen So Far in 2019 as his Testosterone level Rises into the Rutting Season..
Elk Bull Aggression Rising for the Rut
Each day now there is more chasing, more herding and eventually more battling, as Elk Bull aggression rises during the early stages of the Rutting Season. It will usually take several cool days in a row before Elk Cows start entering Estrus, however.